FFWD – Quinoa, Fruit and Nut Salad

The secret to gluten-free eating isn’t really baking with alternative flours. The secret is eating a wide variety of naturally gluten-free foods and leaving the gluten-free baking for treats and special occasions. When my partner was diagnosed with celiac disease, we found that we didn’t have to adjust our lifestyle drastically. We didn’t eat a lot of bread and though I have a bit of a baking habit, it’s something I do for meetings and gatherings, not just for the two of us. Though we had to eliminate couscous, it was a relief to find out that quinoa was on the safe list. It’s easy to prepare, a complete protein and has a great, nutty flavour. I’d have been sad to have to leave quinoa out of our repertoire.

This week’s French Friday recipe is a good example of why we’re so fond of quinoa. It’s prepared much as rice would be, with a fifteen to twenty minute cooking time. Then, the cooked quinoa is mixed with dried fruit, nuts, seeds and herbs before being tossed in a simple lemon-ginger dressing. I used dried cranberries and blueberries, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, minced basil and parsley. I let the mixture rest for an hour and then, as suggested, served it over mixed greens with a dollop of plain yogurt. A simple, filling supper with a lot of texture and flavour. It’s also great for packed lunches or picnics.

When people find out that Kevin has celiac disease, they often express concern over the expense of gluten-free eating. It’s processed and packaged gluten-free food that’s costly, though. Our food bill hasn’t changed much, because we don’t rely on those products. With recipes like this one, who needs them?

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Quinoa, Fruit and Nut Salad


35 thoughts on “FFWD – Quinoa, Fruit and Nut Salad

    1. I loved the yogurt with this, too. I’m looking forward to having a bowl of yogurt with granola and honey for breakfast tomorrow.

  1. The photo of your quinoa looks wonderful. I am glad your enjoyed the dish.
    Tricia and I had mixed opinions about the recipe, but it was certainly an
    easy one to make. It is always fun to experiment with new recipes, and since
    neither Tricia or I had ever heard of quinoa before, it made it very

  2. I can’t believe I never ate or fixed quinoa before this challenge, Teresa. We have been missing out. I am looking forward to trying other recipes with it as I really enjoyed the flavors and I think it is a perfect food to pack for my lunch at work. I bet the blueberries were so good with this!

    1. You have been missing out – I’m glad you’ve discovered it now. It’s a wonderful starch/protein option. I loved the blueberries with this – their sweetness was nicely offset by the tartness of the cranberries and lemon.

  3. I love the thought of blueberries with this (although, I probably would have nixed the lemon viniagrette & eaten it like cereal if I used them, just because 🙂 )

    Although, we aren’t gluten free in our house, I find I am enjoying working with the different “flours” (grains, seeds, etc) and learning about their nuances in cooking/ baking.

    1. Quinoa totally works as a good, hot cereal, too. And I recommend blueberries with both the breakfast and lunch/dinner versions!

      I’ve loved reading about your experiments with alternative flours so far. It’s amazing the differences in texture and flavour you can produce by creating different flour mixtures. I feel like I’ve only started to scratch the surface, myself. I have started baking from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain and love her philosophy about the properties of different flours and her emphasis on whole grains.

  4. That’s an excellent point, that it’s only the processed, packaged gluten-free items that are so expensive. Besides, natural foods are so much tastier and more healthful. I really like your photo of the pots of fruits and nuts.

    1. Natural/whole foods really are worth it, for the taste and the health benefits. I like that photo, too – thanks, Tricia.

  5. I agree…three of my nephews are GF and I find it pretty easy to cook for them and not use processed food if I think about it for a second or two. We loved this quinoa salad over here too.

    1. It’s not really that hard, once you get past the idea that gluten has to be part of every meal. I’m glad you enjoyed the salad, too.

  6. IMHO, quinoa is so much better than rice, bulgur or couscous. Love its texture and flavor. I am not celiac but I appreciate a gluten free meal after having read so much about gluten intolerance. I am japanese and I’ve gotten even afraid of soy products, all these GMOs can be scary.

    1. I agree with you, Yuri – I prefer its texture and flavour, too. Even those of us who can tolerate gluten can afford to eat less of it. Soy (and corn) are also overused in processed foods. The idea of balance and variety get pulled right out of the equation when you’re eating too much industrial food. It’s made of so few ingredients and our bodies are becoming overloaded.

  7. I love quinoa and this dish is not an exception. Our youngest daughter is a Type 1 diabetic with much higher chances of getting diagnosed with Celiac. I experiment a lot with food, and quinoa is one of her favorites:)

    1. It’s wonderful that your daughter has a mom who is willing to experiment with food to better her health.

  8. I’m relieved to read that you liked this…I haven’t gotten around to it yet and it didn’t sound appealing. I am looking forward to trying it now. Thanks for posting what ingredients you used!

    1. You’re welcome! I liked the combination I used a lot and it had the extra benefit of being made up of things we already had on hand. I’m guessing that this dish will really surprise you. It’s simple, but really good.

  9. Quinoa is not only healthy and good for you, it’s got such a nice nutty taste! Your salad looks wonderful. Glad you both enjoyed it!

  10. It’s amazing how many variations there are with this week’s recipe. Everyone chose different nuts, fruits, and herbal combinations. And there have been some interesting add-ins as well. I can see making this all summer without ever repeating a combination.
    I love your mise-en-place photo. Cute bowls, or are they teacups?

  11. So true, Betsy. I’m getting all sorts of ideas for variations as I read through the posts. I’m also enjoying hearing what people chose to serve alongside.

    They are actually square-ish ramekins, with rounded corners. They’re great for ingredients or pots de crème, depending.

  12. Looks great, Teresa! You’re right about cooking from scratch – gluten-free, or not, it’s so much better & better for you. One of these days, I’ll try the correct recipe as I have some Quinoa left!

  13. @Susan – cooking from scratch is creative and sensible. You’ll have to try the recipe – it’s really good.
    @Liz – welcome aboard! 🙂

  14. I think it is funny how people think Gluten Free diet = now fun! There is such a fun variety of foods, and more now today at stores. This is really the perfect dish for someone who needs Gluten Free diet. Have you enjoyed quinoa pasta, it is my favorite:-)
    Take care,

  15. I know what you mean, Terra. In this culture, whenever awareness heightens around a special diet, it inevitably becomes a weight-loss fad. A percentage of people who have celiac disease do lose weight when they eliminate gluten (though most gain weight, as they’d been previously undernourished). We also rely too heavily on wheat, corn and soy in processed foods, so people need to seek more variety. These things have been distorted, weight-loss plans were promoted and now there’s a backlash against gluten-free eating. So much so, that recently a restaurant worker caused a stir, claiming that he’d been deliberately feeding people gluten because it’s all a fad. It’s hard on people with celiac and gluten-intolerance. The up side is that stores are stocking more gluten-free whole foods, along with the range of processed foods that are appearing.

    I agree that quinoa is a great gluten-free food – it’s so nutritious and we both love the taste. I also don’t mind that it’s really easy to prepare. I used to eat couscous often, but I find I’m able to substitute quinoa for it quite easily.

  16. I think I’ll be using quinoa a lot more after trying this recipe. I bet the dried blueberries were a nice addition to your salad.

  17. I always forget about dried blueberries and I really like them, off to the market to buy a bag:-) I’m glad you enjoyed this salad, I have an idea about how I want to make it next time around. I definitely think it has great potential;-)

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